Whether you’re headed to a warmer climate or to grandma’s house a couple of hours away, spring break road trips with littles can be a bit stressful. Ideally, you would love to have a relaxing, peaceful drive with the family, but packing, bad weather and endless potty stops are enough to make anyone need a vacation from their vacation. Here are a few tips for making the experience more enjoyable for the whole family.
Choose your destination carefully
I’ve known several people who drove to Disney World with infants and were so exhausted by the time they arrived in Florida that they could barely enjoy the vacation. Know your family and know their limits. Some kids do really well on long trips, while others will scream bloody murder the entire time (my daughter until the age of two). As great as a long distance trip sounds, it might be worth it to wait a few years or to leave younger kids with grandma and grandpa.
Give your car a checkup before heading out
Nothing ruins a road trip like a flat tire or overheated engine. I’m not saying you need to do full on maintenance, but getting an oil change, checking tire pressure and making sure there are jumper cables in the trunk could possibly save you some hassle later on. (I may be speaking from experience when it comes to this one.)
Pack smarter, not harder
Packing cubes make outfit planning for each day simpler, plus they come with laundry bags for dirty clothing. Have kids assist in selecting outfits and rolling their clothes. Make sure to double and triple check the weather before packing since the forecast can change on a dime. If you don’t have a car DVD player, download shows and movies on a tablet before you leave the house, since Wi-Fi is scarce out on the road. And always bring more phone chargers than necessary, including at least one for the car.
Keep entertainment and snacks within reach
We all know how soon choruses of “I’m bored” and “I’m hungry” will start happening on the average road trip (we’re lucky if we make it half an hour). The kids will have no excuses if you stock snacks, books, games and a tablet nearby. Invest in a car seat organizer like one of these, which holds plenty of food and toys and also has extra space for diapers. And on that note, I suggest bringing wipes along on the trip (even if your kids are potty trained) for cleaning up messes in a pinch.
Expect plenty of pit stops
As much as you may want to make a 12-hour trip in exactly 12 hours, we all know that’s just not possible with kids (unless yours happen to have camel bladders). Use bathroom stops as an opportunity to eat, throw away garbage, stretch legs and burn some of your toddler’s energy. Try to find a bathroom near a playground if possible, and bonus points if there’s a store in the area where you can grab water and extra snacks. The iExit app is helpful for finding what’s around when you’re on an interstate in the middle of nowhere.
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